We are in the home stretch when it comes to getting ready for our last garage sale.After this, everything is being given to family or donated to a charity of our choice. What makes this garage sale especially difficult is the question I kept posing, both to myself and the Mikester, "How did this garage ever get like this in the first place?" Of course, trying to put the blame on anyone is a slippery slope. It's our garage and we now have to own it. We have been cleaning it out for more than threeweeks and I have to say, it's looking like we are getting closer to the big sale day. I have given so many garage sales over the 47 years of our marriage and maybe, my experiences could help readers if they are planning on a garage or yard sale in the near future. By the time you read this, our sale will be over and we can much more easily get our car into the garage-let's celebrate. Here's what we do, and what we've learned: 1. Have the sale when it's not a holiday weekend or it's 100 plus degrees outside. I had one in July once with a friend. Need I say more? 2. Cash only. Be prepared to tell directions to the nearest ATM machine, if requested. 3. Never hold things for more than 30 minutes, unless you know the person. Chances are, you will end up holding the item all day, and then not selling it. 4. I like having a sale on Saturday ONLY, as I appreciate, respect and honor the working folks who can't come to a sale on a Thursday or Friday. 5. I specify, "No early birds please," because we need all the prep time we can get without interruptions. 6. Plan a breakfast the night before, it may be awhile before you can get back in the kitchen after the sale begins. 7. Have lots of change on hand and dollar bills. If you have extra boxes, bags or sacks-that's a plus. 8. Have other adults available to assist in the sale, especially the first two hours. 9. Price things cheap, especially if you don't want to keep things or move stuff back to the house or garage. 10. Negotiate. When someone offers less, you can decline nicely, or refer to No. 9 above. 11. Make big, easy-to-read signs and post them by 7 a.m. the date of the sale. 12. I advertise in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and, yes, it costs some money but the return and the amount of customers makes it all worthwhile. 13. If it starts at 8 a.m., be ready a little before, unless you have a gate; people like to get there early to get the "best deals and selections." 14. Be prepared for rain and, if needed, jam all the stuff in the garage so the sale goes on, "rain or shine." 15. And last, think of how much neater your home and garage will be when “this stuff" is gone.SoupI will make all the ingredients ready for a soup in the slow cooker and start it very early on the day of the garage sale. We don't want to go out and eat or exert energy after a busy day garage selling.Soups are so calming to me, sometimes we just enjoy a cup of soup instead of a heavier meal. Whether you cook a soup or stew in the oven, on stove top, or in a slow cooker, it's a plan for success and the flavors mellow the house with such good comforting aromas.A couple of years ago I featured the late comedian Paul Lynde Stew, and I have had some requests to reprint it, so here it is. It's one of the best stews that never disappoints.I have also substituted fresh vegetables in place of canned-still fantastic.Paul Lynde's Stew3 pounds stew meat-rinsed only-does not have to be browned1 (No. 2) can whole tomatoes1 (No. 2) can tiny peas1/2 can beef consomme4 Tablespoons regular tapioca (thickening)1/2 cup prepared breadcrumbs (thickening)1 1/2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper OR to taste1 (No. 2) can small onions1 (No. 2) can diced carrots1 (No. 2) can diced green beans-NOT French cut1 Tablespoon brown sugar1 bay leaf-remove before eating1/2 cup white wineDrain all vegetables, except tomatoes. Bake at 200 degrees for 6-7 hours, covered. I use a heavy Dutch oven or casserole pot. This is so good with cornbread or a green salad; the smells are wonderful.Creamy Potato SoupThere are some cold and dreary days when this recipe "just calls our name!"4 cups of potatoes-peeled and cubed1 cup celery, about 3/4 inch slices1 cup onion, chopped2 cups water2 teaspoons salt1 cup whole milk1 cup whipping cream ( I have used half and half)3 Tablespoons melted butter1 Tablespoon parsley flakes1/8 teaspoon pepperCombine potatoes, celery, onion, water and salt in large Dutch oven. Simmer, covered for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Mash mixture once or twice with a potato masher, leaving some vegetable pieces whole. Stir in remaining ingredients; return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until soup is thoroughly heated. This makes about 7 cups. Options:You can also brown some bacon pieces and add them in with the first ingredients. I like to chop fresh chives to put over each cup of soup, looks and tastes good.• Next week, we'll venture on with more soup recipes. In a few weeks, I will be featuring holiday recipes for November and December. I can't believe how fast this year is going. Meanwhile, the flower beds are awaiting...pansy planting time when the days are constantly cool. The Hyacinths and tulips are chilling and will be ready for planting before Christmas. Enjoy fall gardening, there's nothing quite like it-and look, no sweating!